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College Physics

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Description: Published by OpenStax College, this introductory, algebra-based, two-semester college physics book is grounded with real-world examples, illustrations, and explanations to help students grasp key, fundamental physics concepts. College Physics includes learning objectives, concept questions, links to labs and PhET simulations, and ample practice opportunities to solve traditional physics application problems.

Author: Dr. Paul Peter Urone, California State University Sacramento, Dr. Roger Hinrichs, State University of New York, College at Oswego, Dr. Kim Dirks, University of Auckland, New Zealand, Dr. Manjula Sharma, University of Sydney, Australia

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College Physics by Dr. Paul Peter Urone, California State University Sacramento, Dr. Roger Hinrichs, State University of New York, College at Oswego, Dr. Kim Dirks, University of Auckland, New Zealand, Dr. Manjula Sharma, University of Sydney, Australia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Reviews for 'College Physics'

Number of reviews: 5
Average Rating: 4.3 out of 5

1. Reviewed by: Takashi Sato
  • Institution: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Title/Position: Physics & astronomy faculty
  • Overall Rating: 4.9 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

This book has the feel of a typical algebra based first year physics book, suitable for algebra-based first year physics courses anywhere. This book has reportedly been produced as part of a well-funded project (including support from the Hewlett Foundation, Gates Foundation, etc.) and, despite it being made available for free, does not appear lacking in quality. A general practice in physics education at the first year level is to split courses (and corresponding textbooks) into two streams: algebra-based and calculus-based. This book is not intended for use with calculus-based courses.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

On the whole there is no issue with content accuracy or
bias. The one exception I detected is in Ch. 26 where the Square Kilometre Array is discussed in a way that does not appear technically correct to this radio astronomer.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

This book pays good attention to highlighting the application of physical principles in contemporary society, often by description of technological devices. Although the physical principles do not become outdated, the specific devices referred to will need updates and maintenance.. This is generally what is done with all physics textbooks at this level.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

No significant issues detected.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

No significant issues detected.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

No significant issues detected.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Yes.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

I used mainly the PDF version (hardcopy and on screen) for this review - no issues experienced.

Interface Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

No significant issue detected.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

No significant issue detected.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

(1) my preface:
This review has been conducted jointly by Takashi Sato and Tyron Tsui (alphabetical order). Tsui nominally examined Chapters 1 - 17 and Sato nominally examined Chapters 18 - 34. Further, Dr. Tsui has the experience of having adopted this book for his class (Summer 2013 semester) and has shared his experiences with me. I believe we are in good agreement with each other’s comments and I have benefited from the discussion. However, rather than merging our comments into one submission, we are each making our own submission.

(2) The authors do not use the symbol "e" for the fundamental charge, 1.6 x 10-19 C, which is the standard notation . They use “q_e” instead. This choice of symbology is very unusual, perhaps unique, in textbooks for this audience. Because the two forms of notation are completely equivalent, it can be ascribed to a stylistic choice and this reviewer has no strong preference. However, I question whether it is prudent to graduate our students without knowing what “e” means.

(3) This textbook incorporates the use of PhET simulations throughout. Simulations produced by the PhET project at the University of Colorado Boulder is the current golden standard and fans of PhET will surely embrace its prominence in this book.

(4) Prompted by Clint Lalonde’s question regarding the suitability of using parts of this same book for multiple courses, I looked at the chapters on special relativity and quantum physics to see if it might be suitable for a second year course in modern physics. The chapter on quantum physics serves only as an introduction and thus unsuitable for a modern physics course. The chapter on special relativity is more promising, and the algebra-based nature of this book is indeed sufficient for special relativity. However, it is only one chapter and I would imagine most modern physics courses will require more depth on this topic.

Of course, while we physics teachers may forget to state the obvious, the algebra-based first year course I refer to in the opening is often a two-semester sequence (i.e. two courses.

(4) The publishers provide supplements, much like any other modern textbook. In addition to an instructor solution manual and powerpoint slides, electronic supplements such as WebAssign and Sapling are also available. More specifically, I have learned that OpenStax has worked with Sapling Learning to produce an online homework tool tailored for this book. I have seen it demonstrated and for this particular book, unlike other books Sapling works with, the e-text has been integrated into the Sapling product. Students pay $40 instead of the usual $30 for this convenience.

(5) I would like to reiterate Tyron Tsui’s comment about the lack of ratings of end-of-chpater problems.

2. Reviewed by: Tyron Tsui
  • Institution: Langara College
  • Title/Position: Dr./Instructor
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text included and appropriately covered all topics necessary for a first-year algebra-based physics class. An index is provided in the PDF version of the text, but a link to the index in the web version of the text was not found. There are glossaries at the end of each chapter. Compared with a large glossary at the end of the text, it was easier for students to review the new terms, but trickier for them to find a term defined in a previous chapter.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Agree.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Chapters begin by introducing and developing physical concepts and end with sections covering modern applications of those topics. Keeping the applications updated seems like it would be straightforward.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

Each topic is introduced with a contextual or motivational section. Next, the concepts are developed and terms are well defined. The structure and text was generally straightforward.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

As mentioned, chapters/topics begin and are developed with the same framework.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Agree.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Agree.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

No issues that would distract the reader, but the font and style used for numbers, scientific notation and units change depending on where the value is shown and what the units actually are. Maybe it’s the equation/math type program they used? The equations and some symbols disappear when the PDF is printed on certain printers or when the original PDF is modified (lines highlighted or reprinted to 2 or 4 pages on a sheet). The bars over average variables sit high.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

Agree.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

Agree.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

Most other physics textbooks provide a rating for each end-of-chapter question (I, II, III) as a rough estimate of the question’s difficulty. I’ve found the system to be useful for myself and for students working on unassigned problems. The current PDF of this text (col11406_1_8_13.pdf) does not have such a system.

Most forces in the text are given the symbol F with a subscript to differentiate, but weight, normal force and tension are W, N and T.

Note:
At the suggestion of BCcampus staff, this review has been prepared jointly by Takashi Sato and Tyron Tsui (alphabetical order). Tsui nominally examined Chapters 1 - 17 and Sato nominally examined Chapters 18 - 34. Further, Dr. Tsui has the experience of having adopted this book for his class (Summer 2013 semester).

3. Reviewed by: Neil Alberding
  • Institution: Simon Fraser University
  • Title/Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

Comprehensive and include much more than could be covered in two one-semester introductory courses.
The Index and glossary are find. The pdf version needs a Table of Contents for navigation.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Here are a few points in the order that I saw them. (Stars indicate importance.)

*1. (1.3) The rules for significant figures should not be taken as inviolable. Suggest that they be applied with common sense. For intermediate calculations keep more significant figures than necessary to avoid propagating roundoff error. A few too many sig figs is better than too few. An example of an exception is 10.2 x 0.99. The rules would imply that only two figures be kept in the result which is plainly nonsense; the answer should be written as 10.1 not 10. (0.99 has three “honorary” sig figs.)

*2. (2.2) "A vector is any quantity with both magnitude and direction". Not true. A vector has magnitude and direction, but some quantities with magnitude and direction are not vectors, e.g., rotations.

*3. (2.4)Trying to rigorously define "deceleration" is not necessary and is confusing. Just say that when using technical terminology in physics, acceleration covers speeding up and slowing down and we will not be using deceleration in a technical way. (The section even starts with an image on the topic so students will think it's an important concept that must be memorized.)

**4. (2.4 and 2.5) The concept finding displacement from the v vs t curve by the area under the curve is not discussed. True, this is an integral calculus concept, but I have never found students to be troubled by it. This concept is necessary to derive the kinematic equations. For example, the statement vavg = (vi + vf)/2 is not obviously true. Note that a common student misconception is that the average velocity is an average of some velocities and taking this statement as obvious panders to that misconception.

*5. (2.7) Although most textbooks do it and it's not wrong, I don't like introducing the concept of "the acceleration due to gravity" in the kinematics section before discussing mass and force. The only reason it's done is to give a wider repertoire of constant acceleration problems. I prefer introducing "g" as the "gravitational field strength" which, when multiplied by the object's mass (see discussion later) predicts the force of gravity on it. Only in the absence of air resistance or other forces is the object's acceleration equal to g.

**6. (4.2) The concept of how to measure mass, operationally, is crucial at this point. The author beats around the bush but never says the important words. He says, "Operationally, the masses of objects are determined by comparison with the standard kilogram." but HOW this comparison is done isn't said. There needs to be some mention of comparing the accelerations of two masses (one possibly being the standard) when the are subjected to the same force and that the ratios of the masses are inverse to the accelerations. (A later mention that the weights can be compared as a means of measuring mass leads to the idea that mass could have two ways of being measured and then, later, when the Cavendish experiment is discussed the notion that gravitational attraction doesn't depend on an object’s composition might make some sense.)


*7. In figures such as 2.4, the points on the parabola are connected by straight line segments. They should not be.

8. Ch 9: Positioning of arrows over the figures of male bodies on the free bod diagrams. may cause some amusement among adolescent readers.

***9. Simple pendulum discussion needs revising: "We see from Figure 16.14 that the net force on the bob is tangent to the arc and equals Fnet. (The weight has components along the string and tangent to the arc.) Tension in the string exactly cancels the component parallel to the string. This leaves a net restoring force back toward the equilibrium position at θ=0." This is wrong. During the swing of the pendulum the acceleration direction varies. It goes from being tangential to the arc at the extremity to pointing toward the pivot point as it swings through the equilibrium. See this figure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oscillating_pendulum.gif . The acceleration vector is pointing in the direction of the net force.

**10. (25.6) There needs to be a discussion of angular magnification in this section and how it applies to the simple magnifier held a focal length from its object. In that case a magnified image is clearly seen with good eyes, but the lateral magnification, as described in this section, makes no sense because it is infinite.

**11 (26.4) The magnification of the microscope suffers from the same lacuna as that of the simple magnifier, but worse. The important point is that the angle subtended by the object observed through the microscope is larger than it would be if viewed by the naked eye at the eye's near point. The calculation of a lateral magnification in a case where real images exist somewhere in space at an arbitrary position that is closer than infinity tells us nothing about the apparent magnification seen by the eye, which is the angular magnification.

12. CH 27: the combined contributions of the double slit and single slit patterns to the pattern of the double slit interference is not discussed, but is hinted at in the problem 11. This should probably be discussed in the text before one could expect a student to do the problem.

13. Ch31: The picture depicting synchrotron radiation actually has little if anything to do with this chapter?

14. Figures 7.32 seems way off. (GDP/capita vs energy usage) Must be out of date. GDP numbers seem consistent with year 2000 numbers. In 2007 the GDP/capita should be as follows: US $46350 vs Japan $34100. (World Bank statistics found by Google search.))

This list is probably shorter than a similar one of the good things about this book. But these items (especially the starred ones) are important enough to warrant some concern that other issues would be apparent when a closer look at this book would occur when teaching a course from it. There are many worked example that will be appreciated by the students. Some of the problems are interesting and unusual.

Content Accuracy Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

It's ok. I have mentioned some data on GDP/Capita that seem outdated. The material covered generally is not changing that qickly.



Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

Yes

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Yes. I have mentioned some issues in a previous box.

Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Good. The textbook should be broken into smaller files to easily use in tablets or smaller netbooks.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Yes. The main issue I have is at the beginning where some topics in kinematics are omitted (area under v vs t curve) that do not allow
the kinematics to be rigorously derived
The issue of operationally defining mass and how to measure it is also discussed in a previous box..

Organization Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

No. Here are my previously prepared omments on this issue:

it is worthwhile addressing the accessibility and usability of this textbook. The initial link I was given was to a pdf file many hundreds of MB in size. Currently in one of my courses I am using a textbook whose highquality pdf is about 1/10 that size. After downloading I noticed that it was impossible to copy any text from the display. Perhaps this is an antiplagiarism measure or copyright protection. Downloading from the link shown in the front of the pdf, I got a copy that did not have this feature. Furthermore, there was a lowresolution version pdf as well as epub versions. The lowresolution was indeed a manageable size and the quality was acceptable. It should be noted that most of the figures are line drawings. Line drawings can be imbedded in a pdf using a vector graphics encoding (such as eps) that retain the full resolution of the images at a fraction of the size of a bitmap. Indeed, all images in the pdf were jpeged bitmaps which made them big and full of compression artefacts in the smaller pdf file.
The readability of the pdf version of the book approaches zero. The text is very small, sans serif and each line is much longer than what is needed for comfortable reading. When reading a paragraph, the eye often finds itself at the beginning of the line just read or completely lost. Furthermore, there is no sidebar table of contents for easy navigation. The thumbnail view shows barely recognizable page images that give no help in navigating around in the huge book.
So I tried the epub. It is much larger than the lowres pdf, undoubtedly because of the images. The epub version was not able to be read by iBooks on the iPad. (I’m not referring to the special paid edition.) The only ebook reader that would load it was Calibre. (A fine piece of software). Using my 2010 MacBook Pro it took about 3 min to display the first time. The epub formatting was very legible and pleasant to read. The images were clear and well placed. Pages could be navigated rapidly within a chapter. There was a sidebar table of contents allowing quick navigation from one place to another. Transitioning from chapter to chapter caused a delay of a few seconds, but it was not annoying. The equations were legible, although the bitmap images of them looked a little crude. (Is mathJax coming to epub sometime?) One issue was that after navigating around in the book the images start to disappear. Unlike pdf, epub is supposed to allow svg vectorgraphic images, but is seldom done. The best solution for the epub would be to break the book into several parts according to the normal division of firstyear physics courses.

On to the contents. As I say, it's unfortunate that most students will not read the purple prose of the authors, or try to follow the logic of the exposition. Nevertheless, I think it's worthwhile to present an intellectually respectable narrative. Unfortunately most "College Physics" books are written for an audience that often is not attracted to taxing their brain over the intricacies of the subject. An easily digested gloss may be rated higher than a text that tells the full story. There are some textbooks that achieve a happy medium between simplifying too much and explaining in a rigorous way. But the average College Physics, algebrabased textbook tends to simplify too much.

Interface Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

Not as far as I could tell.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

I am ok with this aspect of the book.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

Here are the rest of my prepared omments:


It's unfortunate, but most of us who teach physics soon realize that students don't read the textbook. Perhaps they use it as a last resort for finding hints on solving homework problems. No matter how well written, laid out, feature-filled the effort gone into preparing even the best textbook is wasted. The textbook by Urone et al. is a College Physics text. That means it is intended for an audience whose main interests usually lie elsewhere than the physical sciences or engineering.
A textbook is usually recommended or assigned by the instructor with little input from the student; therefore, it is good to have an option that is inexpensive and portable. On this count, Urone et al. surpasses most other commercially marketed textbooks. On the other hand, its content does not.


The list of issues is probably shorter than a similar one of the good things about this book. But these items (especially the starred ones) are important enough to warrant some concern that other issues would be apparent when a closer look at this book would occur when teaching a course from it. There are many worked example that will be appreciated by the students. Some of the problems are interesting and unusual.

I do approve of suggesting the interactive activities with the PHETs and even more appreciate actual takehome experiment suggestions. Perhaps more guidance to the student could be given in carrying out their investigations by providing a worksheet or more detailed instructions.

The examples and problems of biological nature are also commendable. One does wonder whether the authors have the expertise in all the various aspects of biophysics necessary to properly vet them.


4. Reviewed by: Elena Bassiachvili
  • Institution: Langara College
  • Title/Position: Instructor
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

a. Glossary is provided at the end of each chapter, but I feel the definitions are not detailed enough and are too specialized without referencing the particular cases where it is applicable. For example, the rms equations work for sinusoidal functions (which is what the book deals with) but, that limitation is not clearly stated to the student. Some glossary terms are a bit too succinct and as a result are oversimplified. For example: "model: simplified description that contains only those elements necessary to describe the physics of a physical situation"

b. Some glossary terms are repeated with a different definition “grounded: when a conductor is connected to the Earth, allowing charge to freely flow to and from Earth’s unlimited reservoir grounded: connected to the ground with a conductor, so that charge flows freely to and from the Earth to the grounded object” p. 652

c. The index is fairly detailed, easy to click on the page in the pdf.

d. The range of topics covered is quite vast and is enough for a first-year introduction. However, the amount of detail provided for some of the basic concepts is in some cases too little.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

I would need to go through the text with a fine-toothed comb to be able to say this with all certainty, but it seems that overall the material is accurate, error-free and unbiased.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

I believe so, of course there are (as always) the photos with computers that look dated, but should not be difficult to fix. Many images are general enough to withstand the test of time. The material is modular enough that things could be added/removed/modified as needed.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

a. I find that the explanations of the basics for many topics are too limited. More time is devoted to the (admittedly more interesting!) subtopics or ideas that follow the basics. I think that the explanations of the basics are lacking, especially in the later chapters, and the students may need to use additional references. However, the text is more interesting than others because of the inclusion of the extras.
b. On the same theme, most examples are great ‘application’ type, however, many students may not be familiar with the terminology used for a particular device (such as a combustion engine or headphones/mic) and I feel insufficient explanation of each item is given. Also, some examples are a bit confusing, Fig. 16.18., Fig. 23.36
c. Much of the data is presented in a tabular format, an associated graphical representation would be useful. ex. table 14.4
d. The authors clearly tried to make connections with real-life examples and I think that is very helpful to get the students' intuition to connect to the challenging concepts.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Seems that way, I could find no glaring inconsistencies. The one thing that is a bit odd is some terms are defined twice with 2 different definitions. For example:

Definitions at end of chapter repeats Ch. 11:
“diastolic pressure: the minimum blood pressure in the artery
diastolic pressure: minimum arterial blood pressure; indicator for the fluid balance”

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

a. Each chapter is sectioned, labeled and indexed well. Has own self-contained glossary and review at the end. Obviously, some chapters must be done after others, especially the specialized chapters, but this is not an issue. Other than that, there is not undue reliance on previously presented material. In fact, some material is repeated in several locations in the text as needed.
b. In general, the text is quite large and would definitely need to be split up in some way. Chapters would have to be omitted or the text would have to be split into 2 parts. It seems that it lends itself well to that.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The tone of the text is definitely accessible to students, and is an easy read. However, the flow of ideas (in some cases) may be difficult for inexperienced students to follow. The thoughts are not compartmentalized, they are more of a lecture-style explanation rather than solid, clear-cut description of the material. I think this will work well for the more engaged students but may be difficult for the weaker students. This may potentially be an issue.

Personally, I would have re-organized some of the chapter contents and grouped things together a bit differently (especially the circuits, EM chapters), but I think that is more of a personal preference rather than a criticism.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

a. Images: There is quite a bit of jpeg aberration with images that are not photographs (which really should not be saved as jpegs in the first place). This appears on images such as graphs, vector diagrams, tables, etc. that were placed in as images, and this is really quite distracting. This would be an easy fix for the book authors, just saving the original images in a format which is more appropriate for that image type (such as bmp or gif) would remove the issue entirely. (ex. image on p.100 and many, many others)

Aside from that, some pixilation is also evident in some photos, but not terrible. Most figures themselves are clear and of good size, but some are a bit cluttered and small, ex. 18.24.

b. In general, some images have a feeling of being placed a bit haphazardly, maybe rounding the corners or putting a frame around them would have made them look more in-place. Other images look well integrated.

c. Equations: Inconsistent sizing of things like brackets, superscripts look out of place, bars over symbols are too far just general formatting issues. Probably occurred when the document was converted to pdf. Some numbers look larger than the surrounding text.

d. Navigation: The links that I tested worked (from index, to chapter section, to the PhET simulations).

Interface Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

None that I noticed.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

Images try to be inclusive of various ethnicities. I saw no offensive terminology.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

a. The use of the links to java games (PhET Interactive Simulations) is a great idea, though the games themselves are not particularly good or well-defined (it is not clear what the user is supposed to do to play the game).
b. I’ve never been a huge fan of the prime (‘) notation for anything other than the derivative. Text uses it for the quantity “some time later” in Ch. 8.
c. Some questions are of the “Professional application” nature, I think that is really nice to spark the students’ interest and show application of the material in the real world.
d. Many biomedical applications and examples in this text. I do find this material interesting, but it is a definite extra that is very prevalent in the chapter questions as well as supporting chapters. I'm a fan of applications, but I wish the topics were a bit more varied.
e. I like the presence of conceptual questions at the end of the chapters, gives the students a chance to test their 'general feel' of the concepts before plugging in numbers into equations.
f. In terms of relevance to Canada: there are quite a few photographs of US navy, SOPS, NASA, security agents. Many examples of places in the United States, the book is definitely US-centric.

5. Reviewed by: Dr. Julie Alexander
  • Institution: Camosun College
  • Title/Position: Physics Faculty
  • Overall Rating: 3.6 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

While reviewing this textbook we compared it to two other widely used first year algebra based physics textbooks, Physics by Giancoli and College Physics by Knight, Jones and Field. we have taught many courses using both these standard textbooks. The openstax College Physics text covers all of the topics that the other two texts cover. It is perhaps even more comprehensive than either Giancoli or Knight. For example when introducing electric charge it discusses quarks.

The openstax text has 1269 pages in a font that is smaller than either Giancoli or Knight and the text goes right to the edges of the pages. It is unlikely that a typical student in an algebra based introductory course would be able to work their way through the textual part of the book. Giancoli (1004 pages) and Knight (1067 pages) use only 2/3 the width of the page for text and the large margin for pictures or examples. This makes these texts much easier to read than the openstax text.

If a student chooses to print the openstax book on regular paper, double sided, it is 8cm thick whereas Giancoli is only 3.5cm and Knight 4cm, including the hard covers.
At the end of each chapter the openstax text has a useful glossary of terms encountered in the chapter and a chapter summary that is similar to both Giancoli and Knight.

The openstax index is 5 ½ pages long compared to 15 pages in Giancoli and 13 pages in Knight. It has far fewer topics in the index and is missing subcategories under topics such as acceleration, angular momentum and electric circuits. Oddly it has a larger font for the index than the rest of the text so it has more than three times fewer topics in the index than either Giancoli or Knight.

The problems at the end of each chapter of the openstax text are its strongest feature. They are similar to those in both Knight and Giancoli. There are an adequate number of them and they have adequate variety and varying difficulty. However, unlike Giancoli and Knight the openstax problems are not labeled according to difficulty, a feature that we as instructors like when assigning problems. An additional feature in the openstax text, that neither Giancoli nor Knight have, is problems labeled Integrated Concepts and problems labeled Construct your own problem.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

There were some examples of notation that were not adequately explained, for example the use of F12 on page 639 without explaining that it means the force on particle 1 due to particle 2. Also on page 633 it says “she receives an excess of positive charge” which seems to imply that positive charge moves onto her hair, which is not the case. On page 640 the statement “the force that surrounds an object” is not correct. There are an adequate number of examples in the text with nice color pictures. We believe they are in general accurate and correct, although we didn’t go through each one. The type of examples used are the same type as in Giancoli and Knight and we don’t think they are biased in any way.
There is an instructor solution manual that comes with the text, an excellent feature here is that both the problem and solution are given. This makes choosing homework problems or problems to do in class much more convenient for the instructor.
The online homework system WebAssign is available for this OpenStax text. It costs the students a nominal fee per term but we think it is in general an inexpensive alternate system to Mastering Physics which is included with Giancoli and Knight. Unlike Mastering Physics that has every single problem in Giancoli and Knight, Web Assign has only about one third of the problems in the back of each chapter. Both Web Assign and Mastering Physics have links to the text in many of the problems. However, where Mastering Physics has links to the appropriate pages for students to read before attempting a problem, Web Assign links to the beginning of the appropriate chapter. Mastering Physics is a much more comprehensive online homework system than Web Assign; it has tutorials, conceptual questions, and a test bank. The links to the PhET Interactive Simulations in the openstax text are also available on Mastering Physics for both Giancoli and Knight.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Most of the content in a physics text is over 200 years old so being up to date isn’t an issue. However, this text also includes many modern applications of physics such as medical applications of nuclear physics and particle physics. It also has a chapter called Frontiers of Physics that is up to date. In this regard it is equally as good as Giancoli and Knight and the risk of it becoming obsolete is negligible.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

We found that the openstax text is quite wordy in its explanation of concepts. For example it takes about 10 lines to explain the concept of position whereas Giancoli uses one clear and concise sentence and Knight uses a simple example to explain the concept. The definition of position in the glossary of the openstax text at the end of the chapter is too vague. We think students in general have a very difficult time reading physics textbooks and if the explanations are too long they get lost. We expect this will be the case for most students immediately in the early chapters of this text.

Clarity Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The chapters in the text are organized in a consistent fashion throughout the book. The notation is also consistent.

Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

It would be easy to pick individual chapters of this book to put together into 2 separate one semester courses just like any standard textbook.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The topics in this text are organized in the same order as both Giancoli and Knight. The Open Stax text has 34 chapters whereas Giancoli has 33 and Knight has 30.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

The font in the openstax text is Arial and is smaller than the Times New Roman used in both Giancoli and Knight. It is also more closely spaced and goes to the edge of the pages. It is more difficult to read in print than either Giancoli or Knight but on a computer the student could zoom in to whatever resolution they choose.

Interface Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

We didn’t notice any grammatical errors.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

We agree with this statement however since the text originates in the United States it refers to places and things in the US and not Canada. This is true of both Giancoli and Knight.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

Instructors and physics departments should be very careful about choosing this textbook simply because it is free. The best existing textbooks are much better than the Open Stax textbook notwithstanding the cost implications. Overall we think that this text is overly comprehensive for a first year algebra based physics course. It explains many things that are best left for an instructor to discuss in class but should not require students to read. It would be a good reference for new teachers preparing lecture notes. We think that typical students would feel overwhelmed when trying to read this text. However, it would be appropriate as a resource for problems or specific explanations.